I can’t even fathom what my first TV Show recipe was, but I take many of them with a grain of salt…
As a professional chef, I have come to respect America’s Test Kitchen for doing their homework. I have to reverse engineer some of their recipes because they often take professional/ala minute methods and adapt them for home use, which is useless for me. I also trust Alton Brown entirely. I have only used one and a half recipes from him that didn’t turn out perfectly (A crepe batter that was just too thick, and a pop-over recipe that didn’t).
As for the rest, recipes that come from restauranteurs tend to work better then recipes designed solely for the TV show. I recently made an Emeril recipe (because my boss said so) and it came out decent with only minor changes. I was pleasantly surprised. Two other recipes from my boss, pulled out of magazines or TV shows (that is his only culinary experience, which is frustrating) were disasters… Shrimp ceviche that tasted like canned cocktail sauce, and a charred tomato pizza sauce with impossible procedures.
How do I “fix” bad recipes? My favorite culinary school instructor, Chef Wilke, taught me how to identify the purpose of each ingredient and how to logically determine the reasoning behind the procedures. From there, I can identify problems are make improvements. It also doesn’t hurt to try out the recipe once, taste the outcome, and try it again with changes. I perfected a Hush Puppies recipe last week by doing this. I reduced the onion and added water for the first attempt, halved the sugar on the second, and found a happy medium on the sweetness level for the third version. They were phenomenal.